Peter Neufeld faced his battle with pancreatic cancer as he faced all obstacles; with grace, courage, determination and optimism.
His concern, as always, was for others, and he maintained his gentle sense of humour throughout diagnosis, treatment and his final journey home.
Born in Foxwarren, Manitoba in 1937, he moved with his family to Leamington, Ont. a year later. He grew up in St. Catharine’s where met his wife, Anne, in the youth group at the United Mennonite Church. Peter worked in construction until 1961, when he applied for a job as a salesman at H.J. Heinz. By the time he left the company 32 years later, he was vice president of sales for Heinz Canada.
As a result of his promotion to district manager, he and his family were transferred to Markham in 1969. Several years ago Peter and Anne moved to Ballantrae and joined the congregation at EastRidge Church, where he learned about the church’s work in Igoma, Tanzania and told Pastor Lou Geense he would like to help out.
He embarked on his first trip to Igoma in 2003 and, using his vision and business acumen, spearheaded the establishment of the Stouffville Igoma Partnership that same year. As chairman of SIP, he returned three times, at his own expense, and became a beloved friend and champion of the community. He was especially proud of SIP’s work in establishing the Urafike Health Clinic, which now offers round-the-clock care to residents.
Back at home in Ballantrae, he continued to raise funds, recruit volunteers and organize new initiatives until the end of his life. His impact on those he met was evident in the huge crowd who attended his funeral on Jan. 9 at EastRidge Church and in the heartfelt tributes offered by family and friends.
Peter’s granddaughter Kristin Pali paid tribute to her beloved Opa by reading an essay she wrote when she was in grade 10, citing Peter as her greatest role model. Her moving eulogy brought tears to everyone’s eyes, and encapsulated beautifully her grandfather’s gentleness, sense of fun and enormous kindness to others.
Whitchurch-Stouffville has lost a remarkable man whose compassion, humility and infectious laughter will be missed by everyone whose lives he touched. Peter leaves his wife of 50 years, Anne; daughters Lorraine and husband Gordon Gilbert, Judy and husband Joe Pali, and son Peter and wife Terri Neufeld. He also leaves his beloved grandchildren Kristin, Gabrielle, Dane, Jared, Georgia, Chloe and Marcus.
Donations to the Stouffville Igoma Partnership in Peter’s memory would be greatly appreciated by the family. For more information visit www.sipartnership.org or pick up a form at the Stouffville train station on Main Street.